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Stuck on stupid VII: Spend on pork while whining for dollars

Louisiana had the chance at least to attempt to undo the flub committed by the state’s Bond Commission last week, but instead sided with irresponsibility, all the while it leaders moaning about how the federal government is too restrictive with its purse strings.

There were at least two good reasons why the Commission should have reviewed, item by item, its package approval of $45.335 million in borrowing requests (which Treasurer John Kennedy could not even get a second to vote on one by one) that included unneeded reservoirs, sports complexes, livestock barns, civic centers, recreation areas, welcome centers, gyms, and film centers. For one, it would be a show of faith to the federal government that all nonessential spending would be curtailed in the near future until emergency needs are met.

But perhaps more importantly, the roughly $17 million dollars in these projects (which were pushed up from not being scheduled to be spent any time soon; indeed, some amounts weren’t scheduled to be spent at all in the next year) could have been used immediately by the state for reconstruction. It may well be that the federal government is paying 100 percent of this until the end of November, but why not get the process started now and ask for reimbursement in a month?

Kennedy moved today to bring up the package for reconsideration, but instead lost on a motion to adjourn by the panel packed with supporters of Gov. Kathleen Blanco led by her Commissioner of Administration Jerry Luke LeBlanc. The only to join him in resisting adjournment was Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Secretary Angèle Davis whose nominal superior, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu with Kennedy are considered Blanco’s strongest Democrat challengers for the Governor’s Mansion in 2007.

Yet the hypocrisy was to come when later the Commission approved lending out a good chunk of the money to local governments lent by the federal government to pay for their operations. LeBlanc fumed to the media about how the federal government was unfair in its conditions for use of the money and made the process too difficult.

If so, since some of the local government expenditures were paying employees to assist in reconstruction, why didn’t LeBlanc cut out the nonessential projects approved the previous week and use that money then to lend to local governments to pay for those activities? LeBlanc could have gotten local governments to do more things faster. Instead, he chose to whine about the federal government and to play pork-barrel politics as usual with the state’s resources (Blanco, after all, has to provide a payoff for legislators voting for her higher taxes. And this is the kind of spending she calls “economic development.”)

It’s little wonder that the federal government at this time wants assistance given in the form of loans rather than grants, with this combination of negligence and arrogance. And so the Blanco Administration remains stuck on stupid.

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